The Island of Roatan
Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras, a tropical paradise located off the Central American coast in the Western Caribbean. In addition to it’s obvious physical charm, the island has a long, colorful history culminating with it’s current position as a reasonably priced, laid-back Caribbean tourist destination.
The first human inhabitants of Roatan were Paya Indians, who left behind an abundance of pottery shards and other archaeological evidence of their simple existence. During the 17th century, pirates shared the island with the Indians. Port Royal Harbour, on the East end of the island, provided a safe shelter for their ships, and a convenient place to lure unsuspecting larger vessels which became easy prey for the shallow reefs, rocky shoreline and looting pirates.
Descendants of the pirates and the Indians have been joined over the centuries by Caribbean people, known as the Garifuna, by Spanish-speaking natives of mainland Honduras, and by a growing community of residents representing many different countries. The result is quite an interesting mixture of people, language and culture. Diversity is the norm, but the common thread shared by all the island inhabitants is their pride in the natural beauty of Roatan and their friendly willingness to share that beauty with visitors from around the world.
After centuries of changing cultures and industry – from subsistence fishing and piracy to commercial fishing and tourism – Roatan seems to have found it’s place, both within the borders of Honduras and in the world as a Caribbean tourism destination. Roatan has the world’s second largest barrier reef, making our scuba diving and snorkeling some of the best in the Caribbean. New tourist attractions, like canopy tours, parasailing and catamaran cruises, are coming aboard all the time. The views are stunning. The beaches are brilliant. The resorts are small-scale and friendly. Come and discover for yourself the island paradise of Roatan.
Essentially a long, forested ridge rising from the Caribbean, Roatan retains much of the original landscape that the Buccaneers knew in the 17th and 18th Century. There are several towns around the island, each offering their own unique character to visitors. Following is a list of some recommended destinations and their culinary offerings:
Roatan Attractions – Things to Do
West Bay Beach, West End, Sandy Bay to Coxen Hole:
- West Bay Beach (Tabyana), Ziplining, Gumbalimba Park, Kayaking, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Catamaran Sail & Snorkel, Glass Bottom Boat, Paddle boarding, Fishing tours, many Restaurants
- Governors Palace Restaurant (one of our favorites): Governors Palace | Facebook
- Vintage Pearl: Island Pearl | Vintage Pearl Restaurant
- Gumbalimba Park: Gumbalimba Park — ROATAN
- Things to Do, Tickets, Tours & Attractions | 2021 | Viator
- West End: Half Moon Bay
- Sundowners: Facebook | Sundowner’s Beach Bar
- Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences: Home | Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences
- Swimming with the Dolphins at Anthony’s Key
- Horseback riding on the beach: Horseback Riding Roatan | Roatan Adventures on a Horse
- Butterfly Gardens
- Carambola Botanical Gardens & Trails: Carambola Gardens | Roatan Island Honduras
- Blue Harbor Tropical Arboretum: Blue Harbor Tropical Arboretum | Roatan Hiking Tours
- Manawakie Park: Manawakie Eco Nature Park – Culture, Sloth’s & Monkey’s
- Halukiliki Gift Shop
- Octopus Dive School
- Sandy Bay Divers
- Las Rocas Resort Diving
East End of Island from French Harbor, Oak Ridge, Punta Gorda to Camp Bay:
- Little French Key
- Sloth Farm: Daniel Johnson’s Monkey & Sloth Hangout – Daniel Johnson’s Monkey & Sloth Hangout
- Iguana Farm: Arch Iguana Tours
- Mangrove Tours (Oak Ridge)
- Garfuna Village
- The Buccaneer
- Herby’s Sports Bar & Grill: Herby’s Sports Bar & Grill | Facebook
- The Pineapple Grill: The Pineapple Grill | Facebook
- Cal’s Cantina: Cal’s Cantina – Roatan Restaurant
- La Sirena de Camp Bay, Restaurant & Bar: La Sirena de Camp Bay, Restaurant & Bar | Facebook
- Paya Bay (clothing optional beach)
Punta Gorda: There are two roads down into Punta Gorda – The first Garifuna settlement, established in 1797. This event is celebrated annually on November 12th with a celebratory carnival that should be high on your list should you be visiting during that time. Socrifice Restaurant is on the waterfront in Punta Gorda. Very local food like deep fried lobster. A good lunch suggestion.
- Continue East past Oak Ridge to the sign to East End Beaches and follow the dirt road to The Crow’s Nest, at Marble Hills Farms. They have a lovely sunset view and are open for dinner and drinks Wednesday – Saturday.
- Paya Bay, clothing optional: Look for the sign to Paya Bay about 10 minutes after Marble Hills Farms- Paya Bay resort sits on a bluff in the center of two beautiful white sand beaches. Their restaurant is on a deck overlooking the beaches and the sea. Take your swim suits and take a dip on one of the scenic, uncrowded beaches. Paya Bay also has clothing optional areas. There is also another great place to eat called La Serena which is very close to Pay Bay Resort.
- Camp Bay – Check out the Camp Bay Beach Adventure Lodge restaurant and their variety of island tours and activities. Beautiful public beach.